Six weeks into South Africa’s lockdown to combat the Covid-19 virus, it is clear that all of the country’s citizens are taking a toll. Fredo and Janey have great sympathy with thousands of people who have lost their jobs and those who will still do so. With the decline in business activities many also had to take cuts in their salaries.

The bottom line is simply the fact that thousands of people who have already not had enough food to eat, will now starve. Months of incredible hardships are ahead of us and only time will tell how we will emerge from this.

One thing that bothers Fredo is the fact that people are now becoming mere statistics – the success of the campaign against the virus is measured in terms of a decline or not in the number of people who dies from the virus. We know it is reality – but people – can we not converse on this subject in a more humane way. We do not know how this should be done – especially if we hear that in the United States more people already died in two months than in the whole Vietnam War. Losing around 80 000 of your citizens in less than two months is unbelievable.

So how do we make light of this subject? In looking around us we see the extraordinary efforts of people to try and remain as normal as possible. Those who want to make light of their plight often jokes about the fact that their wine cellars are running dry – or that they had their last whisky. Man – for most average people these are dark days! The home cellars are running dry whilst the wine cellars across the winelands of the Cape remained locked.

Incidentally – the workers involved in the wine industry are also suffering. On the fruit and table grapes farms people are still working and exporting their fruit – and sells them locally. They are deemed to providing essential food stuffs and therefore allowed to work. The wine also come from the vine – but that is not essential.

Now Fredo do not know what is worse – denying him his favourite fruit or his favourite glass of wine in the afternoon. The fruit we are thankful for – but the glass of wine – at the end of another depressing day of listening to the country’s news channels – is very essential – even vital – to keep us sane.

Fresh produce markets tell us what people think

Fredo notes that on the major fresh produce markets buyers are favouring vegetables over fruit. One can understand that – vegetables are staples and goes further. The prices of fruit are often higher and if you have less in your pocket, it is not surprising that you pick vegetables.

However, the star seller on the JHB Market this week was the pineapple. According to our sources the pineapple peels have become popular for other than health reasons. Amidst the lock-down where all sales of liquor are banned – the ‘home-brew’ industry is taking off. A tray of pineapples was selling for R220.00. Sources in Cape Town says a small pineapple now sells for more than R25.00 each – if you can get them.

It reminds us of the prohibition days during the great depression in the United States. Not that Fredo was around then, but then the Hex River table grape growers had a lucrative business exporting raisins to the States. Dried fruit was considered to be essential and good food required by the US citizens. What happened, however, was that the raisins, after arrival, simply disappeared into the mountains where the entrepreneurial Americans used it to make their ‘moonshine.’

The authorities caught onto this – and soon imports of raisins were banned. The Hex grape growing business just about collapsed – just as the wine industry is doing now.
Fredo does not know whether he must divulge any of the secrets of making pineapple beer – with a kick – which our sources say is essential to meet the objective. The objective is putting a bit of a kick in your home-brew – to make up for the day when your wine cellar runs dry. In the meantime – the pineapple growers smile all the way to the bank.

The blogger who revealed the recipe, did not say what level of ‘vooma’ one should have in the drink. Nor does he know the secrets of making ‘gaat’ – the ‘coffee’ the old timers in Namaqualand make from the roots of trees. He only remembers what a friend once told him: ‘Fredo, when we get to this farm, we accept everything – whisky, brandy, witblitz – but certainly not ‘gaat’. When they bring that out, let’s run for the hills.”

These stories – for Fredo – brings a bit of light relief in these times of depression and hardship. Let’s celebrate this with a good glass of wine – that is as soon as we can get hold of one. Mr President – are you listening? Please lighten up our lives and allow us to watch the sun setting with our favourite glass of wine. It helps to take the pain away and makes us face another day of darkness.